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Open Table -no res when restaurant had room

Tried to make a reservation on Open Table for late December at a restaurant on their list- kept getting the message that no availability. I couldn't believe it since it is more than three weeks away. Called the restaurant- got the res. They said it was because it was for a large group and they don't do large reservations through open table. Didn't know this before- has anyone else had this exprience??

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  1. opentable usually states it if that is the case.

    Also, some restaurants only allows a certain percentage of tables to be booked through opentable.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JoLi

      I wonder if that's just to avoid Opentable fees.
      Any idea what they charge?

      1. re: RicRios

        There are set up fees and monthly fees, but I don't remember how much. In addition, there is a fee for each seated person who booked through opentable. Last I heard it was $1 per person.

        I doubt that places would keep seats due to the fees (though you never know for sure); usu. they do so to keep some control over the room. Big parties are a big deal, they require lots of planning around, so most places want/need to book them with a person. I never understood, though, why opentable/the resto using it doesn't have a standard response when people try to book larger parties, something like "opentable can't book parties of 6 or more for this restaurant; please call to make ressies for large parties."

        also, I have worked in more than one place where no one in the restaurant understood all of the capabilities of opentable. it's not unlikely that some of these places would open up more tables if they knew that they were holding them back. I know it may sound absurd, but I've seen it.

        1. re: nc213

          I was told by the owner of Nopa that opentable costs (if I remember correctly) 40,000 a year.

          1. re: Missmoo

            Missmoo..r u saying that is what a restaurant pays OT for the reservation service? Good grief!

            1. re: HillJ

              This probably deserves a separate thread.
              Let's give it a try:

    2. Yes, I have. I don't know the cut off amount of people, but I have tried to get a reservation for 10, and it was made clear that this amount was too much for an Open Table reservation. Called, no problem.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jesdamala

        The cut off amount really depends on the restaurant, they are the ones that set the limits.

      2. The key appears to be that opentable does not give you access to the restaurants true availability -- just what they have set it to be. Meaning, even though it may state that there is nothing available at your desired time, this may not be the actual case. If you can't get the desired reservation from opentable, it never hurts to make a quick phone call.

        There's a restaurant that only has 6pm and 9pm reservations available. I thought they had 2 nightly seatings, but come to find out, they accept reservations at all times, just not through opentable.

        1. We have found that large groups, special occasion dates (Mother's Day, Valentine's Day) and even planning TOO far ahead will result in no res avail on Open Table.

          We had this exp making res for a french restaurant on the Westside for Father's Day (family in from CA, wanted something firm)and Sunday brunch (at Sara Beth's) yet calling directly or even in the case of the breakfast just taking a chance and walking in - no problemo!

          1. It's like anything else. When online air or concert tickets are "sold out," it doesn't mean every seat available is no longer available, it means, you're not getting a ticket through that particular resevation system.

            1. It makes perfect sense to me. Many restaurants have to make special arrangements for seating and tables for large parties, and doing that in person can be far more effective and prevent disagreeable things when the reso times comes, things that OT is not geared to vet.

              1. Many restaurants put only a portion of their tables on opentable.com; some exclude peak dinner hours entirely. If I can't get the time I want on Opentable, I make the reservation, then call the restaurant and ask to change the time. Often there's no problem.

                I believe the average monthly license fee for Opentable is a few hundred dollars a month. The initial setup might be tens of thousands including hardware. There's a lot more to the system than customers see on the Web site.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I've also found the opposite is true if you're booking well in advance. I've called both Town Hall and A16 in the past, and was only offered a table before 6pm or after 9pm by the hostess. I was then able to find spots on opentable that same day for 7:30 and 8:00 PM. Michael Bauer also wrote about a similar experience: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/s...
                  It seems a "multi-pronged" approach should be employed if you REALLY want a particular table at a specific restaurant. However, two things remain constant for me. 1. I will always try online first, and 2. NOPA really needs to get on opentable.

                  1. re: foodiegrl

                    I just had a similar experience though I was making a reservation for that same night. My friend called the restaurant and tried to make a reservation-- they didn't have the time we wanted (7:30) and so we had to make it for 45 minutes later, the only available time. I went on opentable a few minutes later and was able to get a reservation for 7:45. I called to confirm, and everything was all set.

                2. It is not $1 per person but $.25! nitial setup is thousand + but not tens of thousands. The monthly fees are reasonable. It is however true that open table cannot take every reservation and you sometimes need to call the restaurant to make reservations for large parties or farther in advance. Considering it was for a reservation during a busy time of year, was it really a big deal to call the restaurant and get the reservation? Hopefully most people realize open table is a tool of convenience and not be offended if it can't eliminate the need to occasionally speak to another human being!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: psfoodgirl

                    Perhaps the fees differ from city to city, or even from restaurant to restaurant. The last place where I worked paid $1 per seated cover booked through open table. I left there about a year ago, but I find it highly unlikely that the price dropped 75% in the last year.
                    I find it a tremendous convenience for both the diners and the restaurant.

                  2. Hi,
                    Opentable charge $1 per cover for bookings received through Opentable.com and .25cent per cover for bookings received through a link on the restaurant's corporate website. The charging of commissions on all bookings will discourage operators with a unique selling proposition from "opening up" their entire diary to Opentable. Some may in fact go back to pen and paper for busy services and close their book to Opentable.
                    Operators can set a maximum cover party size bookable online - larger parties may affect the quality, presentation and delivery of food from the kitchen.
                    I work for a competitor in the UK - we charge a negotiated flat monthly fee (no commissions) and help the restaurant with the "flow" of a service. As a consequence, few operators close the book online - we also post custom messages to users depending on party size.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mconyers

                      A Wall St. Journal article on opentable.com said that taking reservations over the phone costs around $4 vs. $1 for opentable.com.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Interesting, $4?? I wonder how they got that number.

                        Do you have a link to the article?

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          The Wall Street journal is misinformed - Opentable charge per cover not per reservation.

                          1. re: mconyers

                            SOMEONE is misinformed, but it probably isn't the WSJ.

                            The WSJ doesn't say Opentable charges $1 per reservation.

                            Read the article for yourself: <http://www.dinnerbroker.com/about_us/...>

                            1. re: pgym

                              Open Table charges $1 PER cover through their website. Through a corporate or business website it is .25. I know this as I have just talked to a rep and the restaurant I manage is going to implement Open Table.

                          1. re: mconyers

                            Sorry. Should have put a space between the end of the URL and the closing ">". Remove the "%3E" at the end of the URl and it'll work.

                          2. I tried to make res thru opentable for 8 and couldn't do it. I just made it for six instead and called the restaurant to tell them it would be for 8.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: melly

                              Just to recap for everyone: The restaurants (not OpenTable) set the limits about times, numbers of people a reservation may be for and numbers of tables available on the OpenTable site.

                              If you can't get the reservation you need on OpenTable, call the restaurant.